NEW CANAAN -- A 93-game unbeaten streak came to an end for the Darien field hockey team in the FCIAC semifinals at the hands of Staples last year.
That disappointing result was followed by a 3-2 OT loss to eventual champion Wilton in the Class M semifinals. That's the bad news.
The good news is that Darien just started what it hopes will turn into another lengthy unbeaten streak by taking to the road and picking up a 4-0 shutout in New Canaan on Wednesday afternoon.
As impressive as the Blue Wave's winning streak was, however, the 2012 team's focus is solely on this season.
"We're just focusing on this year. It was a clean slate. For these girls, I think it's really exciting because they're the team that's going to make the mark on the next wave of Blue Wave field hockey," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "Opening against New Canaan was tough, but I think it was a great goal to go after and prepare for, and I'm really pleased with how the entire team played and came together."
Darien wasted little time taking what would turn into a game-long lead, as Mollie Riegel scored her first of two goals by receiving a pass from Claire Culliton off of a corner after only 3:30 had ticked off the clock.
"We try to really pounce on the ball, really be aggressive and we really want to plow through the circle and get some shots off. We executed so it was great," Riegel said. "We really wanted to come out strong and show everyone that we're still a great team and that we've got a lot left in us."
But Darien didn't stop there. Less than three minutes later, the Blue Wave doubled their lead when Lexie Perticone found Erika Osherow for a goal to make the score 2-0.
Darien kept the ball on New Canaan's side of the field for nearly the entire first half while permitting no scoring opportunities for the Rams.
"I think the nerves got to us and (Darien) looked like they were in midseason form, which we expected. It's great to see what we're made of and what we need to work on," New Canaan coach Erin Gildea said. "We had a bit of a slow start, and when you give them a two-goal lead in the first few minutes, it's really tough to come back. I saw a lot of good things in the second half."
As time expired in the first half, Darien earned its eighth of 12 penalty corners, compared to just three for New Canaan. Riegel sent a pass to Osherow, who notched her second goal of the contest to send the Blue Wave into the break with a 3-0 advantage.
New Canaan spent considerably more time on Darien's side of the field in the second half, but it still wasn't enough to crack the Blue Wave defense or solve goalie Libby Feingold, who made three saves.
"I think in particular Jackie Browkaw as our left back just shut down their right side of the field," Minicus said. "Mollie Riegel and Katie Shanahan in the middle really stepped up. Cammie Lattimer held her own on the right side. Kat Huber in the middle was all over the place."
Darien closed out the scoring when Mollie Riegel scored on a one-timer after receiving a pass from Kat Huber with 16:10 remaining in the contest.
Although it wasn't quite the start the Rams were looking for, they still found some positives to take out of the loss, especially considering it came at the hands of perennially tough Darien.
"I think we played better in the second half. Definitely a lot of it in the first half was nerves. I think we're just a young team and it's the little things that keep us down, so we just need to work on that," New Canaan captain Bea Eppler said. "We just need to have confidence with the ball and trust each other. From here, we can only build. This was the big team."
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Darien 4, new canaan 0
DARIEN 3 1--4
NEW CANAAN 0 0--0
Records: Darien (1-0); New Canaan (0-1).
Goals: D--Mollie Riegel (2), Erika Osherow (2). Assists: D--Riegel, Claire Culliton, Lexie Perticone, Kat Huber. Goalies: NC--Emma Ball (11 saves); D--Libby Feingold (3). Shots: NC--3; D--15.